Sarah Novey: 2021 candidate for Lombard Elementary District 44 board
Five candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Lombard Elementary District 44 board of trustees in the April 6 election. They are challengers Sarah Novey, Daniel Tiltges and Cary Benjamin Weisgram; and incumbents Courtney Simek and James Edward Robinette.
Daniel Tiltges did not respond to the questionnaire.
The Daily Herald asked each candidate about issues facing the district and how they would contribute to its progress.
In-person early voting with paper ballots is now available at the DuPage County Fairgrounds Building 5, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. In-person early voting with touch-screen voting begins March 22 at locations throughout the county. Learn more at www.dupageco.org/earlyvoting/.
Occupation: Senior data team lead, IQVIA
Civic involvements: Girl Scout Troop Leader; active PTA member; twice-elected precinct committeeperson
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I am running for school board because I believe that when citizens are engaged in their government, the system works better for everyone.
I am specifically running for school board because I am a former high school science teacher who values public education.
I have served my community as a Girl Scout Troop leader, an active member of the PTA, and parent who has participated on districtwide committees. I want to continue to serve my community by advocating for excellent public schools in Lombard.
Q: How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic?
A: I think that our superintendent and school board have done well under very challenging circumstances. When the community asked for more information, the school district created a COVID stats tracker on the website.
The superintendent and school board also have solicited regular feedback from families, students (from the middle school), and staff through regular surveys. The results of these surveys are then discussed at board meetings and determine priorities and resulting action from the school board.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: Leadership is listening to the variety of needs in your community, educating yourself on the facts, and the best information available, and making a decision that balances all of those needs as best you can.
Some decisions may not be uniformly popular, especially given our current situation where families are inequitably affected by the pandemic. What works for one family may not work for another. But no matter what, a leader should listen to everyone, and a leader should explain and provide information on the situation and the decision made.
Q: Did your district continue to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: School does not look like it did before the pandemic. The teachers in District 44 implemented a massive shift in how they teach by introducing several new technology platforms. The district started the 2020-21 school year with a 100% remote model, which required all students and teachers to learn and adjust to this new mode of learning and teaching.
This has now paid dividends now that some students are back in-person part time. If a class or a student has an exposure, the transition from in-person to remote is seamless with little interruption to the students' class time.
As an example, my daughter had a possible COVID exposure outside of the school. I pulled her out of the classroom at 11:30, she was back home and working with her class remotely by 11:45. She knew what to do, she had all her materials, and she lost virtually no class time.
Q: Do you have a plan on how to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring? What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring?
A: The superintendent and school board announced this week that this spring grades 1 and 2 would offer in-person instruction 4 days a week, up from the current 2 days a week. This is available for many schools in the district, as close to 50% of families are choosing to remain 100% remote. School days will also be lengthened by an hour for all other grades, thus increasing instruction time.
If I am seated on the school board May 4, I wouldn't expect any major changes to the remaining three weeks of the school year. However, I do think that they we have a lot of work to do on determining what school will look like in Fall 2021. I'd like to continue to survey the families, but in particular, I'd like to survey those families that continue to select 100% remote.
How can we make those families feel safe in sending their kids back to school? How can District 44 support families as the pandemic stretches on?
Q: What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A: As I am running for an elementary school board, I do not have a position on high school sports.